In the Caribbean, we fail to truly comprehend the wonders of a balanced day/night cycle. The body knows when to sleep and to work … but for an island boy, this midsummer ting not for me. As a Trini in Finland after the last couple days of drinking, working on the laptop, going out touring … I am completely burnt out.
For the Finns, Midsummer is a night full of magic – it’s the longest day of the year. Midsummer is the holiday when Finns drink the most alcohol! New Year holds the second place. Usually everyone gets at least 4 days’ vacation at Midsummer weekend (somewhere near the end of June, after 21st day). This weekend must be spent somewhere else. Not at home, never!
Of course, just like us, they have some crazy shit … instead of trying to trap a husband with a pooja or “sweat rice” (You can google it), girls put flowers under their pillows for dreaming about their future husband – why is it that women have to have these tricks? Don’t they have enough by nature already 😛 Probably it’s a high time to update the rituals!
The true star of the party is the midnight sun. This time of the year, the night does not exist. And you don’t really feel like sleeping either, which is both good and bad. For example, in Trinidad we have a ridiculous high rate of death by car crash because of all the drunken driving after a fete. Well these guys here have different levels of idiocy.
Normally bullshit here is just public nudity or some spree killing but during midsummer (or Juhannus as it’s known here), they have fuckery on a new scale. A lot of Finns have birthdays late in March – do the math, add the nine months to June! I’m ok with that … we have Carnival Babies in Trinidad. On the other hand, it’s a bonanza for the grim reaper, too: a popular pastime is gambling on how many completely shit faced Finns will meet their deaths during Juhannus, usually at the bottom of a lake. To show you the nonsense … here are some examples of public service announcements that have gone out on TV
- Diving off jetties into 10cm of water is bad and can kill
- Please don’t piss off your boat into the lake, it’s “ecologically irresponsible”
- Don’t drink Russian bootleggers when it’s pumped through a “pipeline” of plastic bottles (I wish I made that one up)
Even with those PSAs, it’s a bit macabre and sad that the most popular sport of Midsummer is drowning. Every year, there is a competition; how many people manage to die by drowning at Midsummer. There are many ways to go. One way is first to drink a lot of alcohol, take a very hot sauna bath, and run out into the icy lake. Then you get a cramp, a heart attack, or a stroke. If you don’t, you must swim into the opposite shore, some two miles away. Of course you can do it! All that booze you’ve been drinking keeps you warm and gives you the strength.
For midsummer, a lot of people go to the cottage and go on a boat to drink. It seems that once you have your boat, you must first drink yourself senseless, then go fishing or rowing. And then you get an urge, open your pants, stand up, and fall into the water. Note that you MUST die with your pants open! It’s the traditional Finnish way to go! The figures for the deaths have been slowly dropping though, less people have been drowning themselves every Midsummer – but 15 was the winning bet for last summer’s number for 2011.
Some other crazy things I’ve heard from people here …
- If a male and a female live in the same house, they are automatically considered a married couple in all respects. The new marriage law, starting at year 2002, means if two males or two females live in the same house, they are also now considered married.
- You can be tested for drugs and/or amount of alcohol in your system at any time in Finland. The police can also search your person, your house, your car – or anything, at any time. No warrant of any kind is needed.